Not many people will admit to reading a Mills & Boon book. Romance is the biggest selling book genre, so there’s a lot of Mills & Boon readers out there, the majority being female. Hand up, I’m one of the people who does read them. A lot.
I do read a lot of books, and I tend to intersperse my romance reading inbetween psychological thrillers, murder and crime novels, historical fiction and chick lit. A little of everything, and switching around gives me a break between genres, and helps switch my brain between one book ending and the next.
But the reputation of Mills & Boon isn’t the most admired. They’re never going to be literary greats, but they have their role, and if they get more people reading and enjoying a bit of escapism, then why not.
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What do people say about Mills & Boon books
A lot of the complaints about these books are about their weak simpering heroines and overbearing heroes. How they’re stuck in the dark ages with relationships where the woman is giving in to the man.
How they’re poorly written. They’re not proper literature.
How samey they are.
A romantic novel is an adult fairy story, repeating the recurring symbols and images which can explain life to a woman and satisfy a powerful need within her. The need to love, and be loved is vital to all human beings, but especially to women. Perhaps that is why many men and some women sneer? Do they feel that the necessity of loving is a weakness, making one vulnerable to hurt? The film As Good As It Gets stars Jack Nicholson as a man whose isolation from the human beings around him is making him mad. Love redeems him; his entire world is changed when he begins to care about other people. That is an archetypal Mills & Boon storyline.Charlotte Lamb
With the large majority of their books written by women, and all written for women, they’re actually exploring romance from a woman’s perspective. The opening awareness of love and usually sexual awakening of the heroine from something she’s closed off. And of course you get the knowledge that all works out well in the end.
For those readers who have their happy ending in their lives, these books show that relationships have bumps but are worth fighting for. For those who’re single and still looking, there’s hope that there’s someone out there who’s right for them.
Many books have characters who’ve experienced hard lives in their childhood or recent adulthood, showing how they’ve come through it a better person. The heroine stands up for her beliefs and challenges the man to realise what he wants and deserves. They want it all (usually career as well as love), and end up with what they want. The heroine needs to be admired by the reader, but the hero also needs to be liked and understood. I don’t think there are many women today who’d want to read about a man who dominates a woman.
Mills & Boon books have moved with the times, with single dads, working women and modern aspects of dating like online or apps mentioned.
My history with Mills & Boon books
I’ve always been a bookworm ever since I started reading at school. I’m sure my mum read me books as a toddler, and once I started school and reading, I just never stopped. I usually had several books on the go at once (I can’t cope with that now). And I’d even come in from playing with friends so I could get back to a book (my son is so different, he’d do pretty much anything to avoid having to read).
As a child I read a lot of book series – a lot of ballet books, pony stories and boarding school type of series, before discovering Poirot, inspector Morse, PD James and Dick Francis at around 10-11 years old. I don’t think I’d really read any romance type until 6th form when one of my A level English teachers stated in a class discussion, that he believed everyone studying english literature should read at least one Mills & Boon book to help you appreciate literature better. An interesting statement given I went to a private boys school where they only had girls in 6th form, so I wonder how the boys took that comment.
Obviously I must have taken him at his word (probably not until my final year at uni when I needed a break from text books) because I’ve been reading them on and off since.
It’s not just me but my best friend also reads them. We’re both intelligent women, with good degrees and jobs, in fairly academic roles. We both read a lot – although I do admit my friend’s choices are more high brow on the literary side than mine nowadays. Pre-children we used to meet up, go away for a break somewhere, and inbetween sightseeing we’d sit and read Mills & Boons books, and trawl charity shops for them.
What I enjoy about Mills and Boon books
I’m not a fan of a book that doesn’t have closure and a clear ending. None of this wondering what actually happens with different possibilities. With these romance books, you know what to expect by the end of the book, it’s just that the journey might be a little different.
I can get through them in a couple of hours. For someone who doesn’t get a good block of time to read usually, it means even in different sittings they’re finished in a couple of days, or at a weekend I might get through 2. So they’re great for picking up inbetween longer more indepth novels.
They’re light and don’t take much brain power. So they give me a break from the day to day of work, chores, and everything else that needs doing.
I’m a romantic at heart. I love a rom com, Christmas movies, and a happy ending, So these books work for me.
There are different ranges to choose from: including modern, medical, heroes, dare, desire and historical.
You also see how a man can change for the better when he realises what he could lose. The woman always wins in the end, usually enabling the man or them both to stop suppressing what they’d held back at the start of the book.
They’re about communication. Openness. Wanting to develop and keep working on relationships. And generally about having good friendships around them to help out.
Facts about Mills & Boon
- The company was launched in 1908.
- Mills & Boon is included in the Oxford English Dictionary
- They sell a book every 4 seconds.
- 150 books are published each month.
- Part of the M6 toll road used 2.5 million old M&B books’ pulp to avoid it cracking.
If you’re not convinced that Mills & Boon books do have a place on people’s shelves, remember what most of us say to children who aren’t keen on reading. ‘It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you’re reading’.
There’s so many benefits to reading, and we can’t all enjoy the same books or reading material. If we did, it would be really boring. There’s a place for all genres and all types of books that suit different people. And not everyone wants to read long, heavy books – all the time, or at all.
I can’t see myself stopping reading Mills & Boon books anytime soon. If only for the easy reads and to get the happy ending every time.
Are you a secret Mills & Boon reader? Or would you never consider reading them?